NEW YORK, NY; February 11, 2013–When AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corps was founded in 1998, few Immersive Jewish Service Learning (IJSL) programs were in existence. Fourteen years later, IJSL has grown into a field with dozens of programs and thousands of alumni. As a pioneer in this space, AVODAH, in collaboration with Repair the World, a national nonprofit that mobilizes Jewish volunteers, commissioned a study to understand the impact AVODAH has had on the professional and personal paths of its alumni.
“Anecdotally we knew that AVODAH has a transformative, long-term impact on its participants,” said Marilyn Sneiderman, Executive Director of AVODAH. “Now we have the data to back it up. We can measure where alumni are making a difference and the degree to which they believe their IJSL experience helped them get there. In order to support our alumni as they become leaders in Jewish social justice and anti-poverty work, we had to understand the outcomes of our current program.”
AVODAH’s year-long program combines full-time service at anti-poverty organizations within the framework of a supportive and pluralistic Jewish community. It gives participants the opportunity to deepen their understanding of domestic poverty and enhance their Jewish identities and the connection to social justice.
Conducted by researchers from Brandeis University, overseen by Rosov Consulting, LLC and funded in part by Repair the World, the study surveyed 424 alumni of AVODAH and achieved a 72% response rate.
The study found that AVODAH paved the way for its participants to hold professional and lay leadership positions in Jewish and secular social justice organizations. Alumni of AVODAH also credit the program for providing them with the skills to be more effective in their work.
As one alumnus, now an immigration lawyer, explained, AVODAH dramatically changed his personal passions and his choice of career, saying, “I applied to AVODAH because of the Jewish component—’social justice’ was not really part of my vocabulary prior to AVODAH.”
Of the alumni who participated in the study:
- 92% report that that AVODAH set them on their current career path.
- 98% report that the year-long program shaped their understanding of the causes and effects of poverty.
- 95% report that AVODAH strengthened their commitment to social justice
- 85% report that AVODAH helped them find their place in the Jewish community.
- 77% report that the program initiated them in to the Jewish social justice movement
“The report underscores the proven fact that a year of service can build a long-standing commitment to civic responsibility and social change,” said David Eisner, CEO of Repair the World. “We commend AVODAH for its strong programming and commitment to strengthening the Jewish community’s fight against poverty in the United States”
To download the study and the executive summary, visit http://www.avodah.net/.
ABOUT AVODAH: THE JEWISH SERVICE CORPS
Established in 1998, AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corps strengthens the Jewish community’s fight against poverty in the U.S. by engaging Jewish young adults in service and community building that inspire them to become lifelong leaders for social change whose work for justice is rooted in, and nourished by, Jewish values. AVODAH has partnered with 135 local antipoverty organizations and placed nearly 600 corps members for a year of service. AVODAH is working with alumni to transform the alumni community into a powerful network for social change by providing opportunities for professional development, skill building and engagement in Jewish life. In fall 2013, AVODAH will begin increasing the scale and scope of our work by launching a new non-residential program. “Like” us on Facebook: facebook.com/avodah. Follow us on twitter: @AVODAH_TJSC.
ABOUT REPAIR THE WORLD
Established in 2009, Repair the World is a national nonprofit organization that mobilizes Jewish Americans to address the world’s most pressing issues through volunteering. Headquartered in New York City, we connect individuals with meaningful service opportunities to help their local, national and global communities, and enable individuals and organizations to run effective programs rooted in Jewish values. Visit weRepair.org to learn more. Follow us on twitter @repairtheworld.
Steve Bocknek / [email protected] / (212) 545-7759 ext 305